tv At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan CNN December 23, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PST
john berman here. kate is off today. the breaking news this morning, let it be an arms race. those are the words from someone who will soon have the power to enter the united states into just such a race. president-elect donald trump. mr. trump was seeking to clarify, we think, a statement he made less than 24 hours ago, the united states must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such a
time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes. the key words, strengthen and expand nuclear capability which can mean many things in the realm of nuclear proliferation. it followed a promise from russian president vladimir putin to enhance his own country's nuclear forces. boris sanchez is live near trump's mar-a-lago resort in palm beach, florida. boris, what's the latest on this? >> reporter: good morning, john. yeah, we have heard two different responses from trump and his team regarding this tweet. initially yesterday we heard from jason miller with the trump camp saying that donald trump was referring to limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons with that tweet. specifically when it comes to terrorist organizations or rogue actors getting their hands on nukes. but as you heard, that report this morning, let it be an arms race, apparently in relation to russia which is a tone we really haven't heard donald trump take before in speaking about vladimir putin and relations
between the united states and russia. after that report came out, we actually heard from sean spicer, the spokesperson for the rnc, the future press secretary for donald trump. he was on "new day" and doubled down on trump's remarks. listen to what he said. >> there was a phone call that came in from mr. trump and as we understand it, she took a phone call from the president-elect and as she reported it, he said to her let it be an arms race in terms of building up our nuclear capabilities with i guess against russia, let it be an arms race, because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all. what does let it be an arms race mean? >> i think it goes back to what i just said with respect to the tweet that he put out. he is going to do what it takes to protect this country. if another country or countries want to threaten our safety, our sovereignty, he's going to do what it takes. >> sure, but he's not waiting until another country threatens
us. he's making these -- >> right, but he's making it very clear that other countries and other companies, you have seen with carrier, he's going to make it clear that he will be an active president that will get things done. >> meaning he will use nuclear weapons if need be? >> he will not take anything off the table. what it means is he's not going to sit back and let another country act. he needs to send a clear and concise message which he's done that he is going to be a president that defends america's interests and defends the american people. >> so you heard that strong response from sean spicer there. really, this is raising eyebrows because if donald trump follows through with his promise, he would be undoing about 30 years of american policy when it comes to nuclear proliferation. right now, he's actually not here at mar-a-lago. he's golfing with tiger woods at the trump international golf course about a mile away from here though he is expected back at mar-a-lago this afternoon where the transition team tells us he's set to hold high level
meetings. >> boris sanchez, thanks so much. russian president vladimir putin is shrugging off the president-elect's call for expansion of u.s. nuclear capabilities, saying there's nothing new about that and that any arms race would not be russia's fault. >> translator: the technical nuclear arms of the united states updated, are modernized there, so if someone accelerates and speeds up the arms race, it's not us, but i would like to underline which is important for our domestic situation and domestic public, i would like to say that we will never once we are in arms race, we will never spend too much. >> let's bring in cnn senior international correspondent matthew chance live from moscow. interesting to hear the russian leader today, because he himself had some words that raised eyebrows about nuclear expansion in this case.
>> reporter: yeah. he downplayed the trump tweet about enhancing nuclear arsenal and the message he put across about an arms race, saying this is nothing new, donald trump and his campaign, the president of russia said, had spoken about renewing u.s. -- the u.s. nuclear arsenal as well. he explained that by saying look, russia has been renewing its nuclear arsenal. we have a very efficient system in place now so it's understandable that the united states might be a little anxious. but this issue of nuclear proliferation is an area where russia and the russian president in particular is very comfortable speaking. it's one of the last vestiges of the soviet union, that it still has parity with the united states on the issue of nuclear weapons and indeed, there was a nuclear agreement done with president obama at the start of his presidency back in 2010 with russia's s.t.a.r.t. treaty, arms reduction treaty which limited the number of warheads to 1550
on each side. look, i can see a situation in the months ahead where perhaps russia and the united states under trump do speak about arms limitation and a new arms treaty. that's an area potentially where they could both cooperate. >> matthew, what did the russian leader have to say about incoming president-elect or incoming president, current president-elect, donald trump? he was asked repeatedly about donald trump. >> reporter: yeah, he was. he was also asked about the whole notion of hacking. these allegations that russian hackers interfered or put their thumb on the scales as it were of the u.s. presidential election. you know, it was interesting because he said again this has got nothing to do with us, it's got nothing to do with russia, but then at the end of that answer, he said look, everybody thought that donald trump couldn't win but we knew, didn't we, speaking to other russians in the room presumably. so it was sort of like a little nudge and a wink from the
russian president perhaps or this has been interpretd in that way. he was very vicious though, i have to say, about the democratic party and the blame he's been getting, putin has been getting, for intervening in the u.s. elections. he said the current u.s. administration always tries to find a scapegoat, the democrats lost the presidency, the senate and the house of representatives. am i to blame for that? are we responsible for everything? if you lose, he said, you should lose with dignity. president putin in these, the final weeks of the obama administration, really unleashing his true feelings about what he thinks about that president and the democratic party. >> some ironic commentary on the democratic process from a man who many people think doesn't particularly respect democracy but interesting to hear. matthew chance, thank you so much. want to bring in our panel. we are joined by cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr, jill dougherty, russian consultant and global fellow for the woodrow wilson center, and joe sorencioni, president of
ploughshares fund. barbara, the initial statement was that donald trump, the president-elect, wants to greatly strengthen and expand the nuclear capability of the united states. that could mean a few things. it could mean modernize which is within the framework of things that have been discussed over the last several years. however, he seemed to go beyond that this morning when he said let it be an arms race. that would be a change, a big change in u.s. policy. >> it would, john. indeed, undoing decades of u.s. national security policy dating back to ronald reagan. now, trump likes to cloak himself, he's done it before, in the reagan mantle of so-called peace through strength. but remember, it was ronald reagan that sat down at the nuclear negotiating table with gorbachev all those years ago. mr. spicer, the spokesman this morning talking about this is all about showing that donald trump will be a strong president. okay. you put that out there on the table, he's going to be a strong
president, but an arms race, is that really the way you want to do it, because if trump is concerned about rogue nations and terrorists getting nuclear weapons, an arms race may not be the best way militarily to go after that. i think a lot of military experts will tell you the u.s. needs intelligence, reconnaissance, to know where nuclear sites are, to be able to deal with them. terrorists not likely to get big intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. dirty bombs, radiological devices, u.s. nuclear weapons aren't going to be very efficient against that. >> jill, this is seen as a response to a statement that russian president vladimir putin said. help us understand exactly what the russian leader was saying when he talked about enhancing his own country's nuclear capabilities. >> you know, john, i think president putin is saying essentially to donald trump we can match you, we will have
every weapon that we need, in fact, he's saying we will have weapons that can overcome your missile defense systems. in other words, forget it, we are equal. he's also saying don't you be the aggressor. he pointed that out several times, don't be an aggressor. in other words, if you and we can cooperate, that's fine. but if you try to be the aggressor, we will match you and get right back at you, and then he's blaming everything, any type of potential arms race on the united states. so i think the word downplaying at this point is not correct. i think vladimir putin is answering what donald trump is saying. they may like each other, they may want to work together, but essentially donald trump is an american, comes from the united states, and russia is going to defend itself against the united states. this is all very serious and it's very imprecise by donald trump to begin a conversation like this by saying let's have
an arms race or let there be one, because there's no way that that is going to work out very well. it may be a negotiating tactic. he may be throwing everything he can out there. but it's very very destabilizing. >> joe, let me talk about what jill just mentioned talking about the imprecision in the language being used in this case by president-elect donald trump. this is an area of your expertise. you full well know that when talking about nuclear arms, precision in language is something that has been part of it for decades and decades. you don't want to make a mistake with a word that could end up costing millions of lives, perhaps, here and people are questioning whether nuclear policy is something that should be in 140 characters or less on twitter. >> that's exactly right. nuclear policy, every word matters. that's why the president's nuclear posture review that every new incoming president performs, takes about a year to do. that's why aides and officials
and military officers work for months on a president's statement on nuclear policy. this is unprecedented, it is bizarre. he has upended as barbara said four decades of u.s. nuclear policy, republicans and democrats have been reducing our arsenals for the last 30 or 40 years, and he does it with a tweet before he's even president. he is sowing chaos to our alliances and it's not just about the u.s. and russia. the whole world is listening to this. china is following this very closely. if the u.s. and russia, who each have about 5,000 weapons in their active stockpile, say they need more weapons, well, how about china, who has about 200, 250? do they need more? what about india? what about pakistan? that's why this tweet and the follow-up statement today, let there be an arms race, is so worrying, so not the kind of statement you want to make. ronald reagan never said
something like this. he said a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. the exact opposite of the message donald trump is putting out today. >> barbara starr, we all know there's always a great deal of reaction to what donald trump puts on twitter and often there's overreaction, to be fair, to what donald trump puts on twitter. when he talks about greatly strengthening and expanding the nuclear capabilities, now, before he talked about an arms race, modernizing the nation's nuclear force is something that's going on right now. it's something president obama is committed to. modernizing means in some cases improving, right, and changing and modifying over time. that is something where there is broad agreement, correct? >> there is indeed, and the pentagon has been spending considerable amount of money over recent years and plans to spend even more on just that. a good deal of the nuclear arsenal is quite old. mr. trump has talked about that.
he is correct about that. the president, president obama, has already been working on that for the last several years. so there is a very strong case to be made to modernize the nuclear force and part of that is for reasons of technology. you want it to be secure and stable and the most efficient technology you have while it sits in those silos or on those submarines. you don't want out of date technology. quite ditfferent, that is not a arms race. that is improving what you already have. the russians doing some of that, also modernizing their force pretty assertively but again, not an arms race, not adding to your stockpile in some fashion to try to beat the other guy to some perhaps imaginary finish line. >> joe, nuclear policy right now, even if you are for enhancing nuclear capability, it's not a numbers game anymore. this isn't the cold war even for
those who do want to see a strengthening of nuclear policy. >> right. there's two things -- >> right. >> i'm sorry. was that to jill? excuse me. >> joe first, then jill. >> sorry. >> there's two things here. one, suppose this is a gambit. suppose this is trump's negotiating style. reopen closed issues, sow confusion, create leverage for negotiations. then he will have a chance to cash this in early in his administration. this issue and his meeting with vladimir putin early in the administration could be the most important challenge confronting the new president and he has a chance to make history. he could take a page from reagan's playbook. he could make a deal with vladimir putin if he wants to improve relations between the two countries to cut both sides' nuclear arsenals, cut them in half the way reagan did, or george w. bush did, or h.w. bush. they each cut the arsenal in half. trump could be that kind of president. if he does that, that's the deal of a lifetime.
that will ensure his place in the history books. but remember, we still have 30 days before he becomes president. what's obama going to do? he has a chance to take some actions now that could reduce the hair trigger alert status of our nuclear forces, make sure that when donald trump comes in, he can't launch a nuclear weapon within four minutes as he can now. >> guys, stand by for a second. jill, something just happened which i'm thrilled that you guys are here to help me understand. we just received a release from the trump transition which included a letter that the russian leader vladimir putin wrote to donald trump on december 15th. so one week ago. let me read the letter that vladimir putin wrote to donald trump. please accept my warmest christmas and new year's greetings. serious global and regional challenges which our countries have to face in recent years show that the relations between russia and the u.s. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security in the modern world. i hope that after you assume the position of president of the united states of america, we will be able by acting in
constructive and pragmatic manner, to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level. please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family of sound health, happiness, wellbeing, success and he added all the best. let me read you what donald trump just said about that. he said a very nice letter from vladimir putin, his thoughts are so correct. i hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts and we do not have to travel an alternate path. so wow. we are sitting here talking about what could be a new arms race and here we have this release of an exchange of letters between the two men who will lead the two greatest nuclear powers as of january 20th. jill, your take on this? >> i think that vladimir putin is no fool. i think he probably expected that trump would be doing
unpredictable things. i think there's probably a percentage that he takes off these comments to bring them back to some type of normality. so he looks at that and says well, that's an opening gambit, that is mr. trump, talk about an arms race, that's an opening gambit but what we really want to do is maybe work together. that's been the hope all along. so what president putin is setting up, is he's saying the old guy, president obama, who is leaving, is the bad guy and the previous presidents, the united states which walked out of the abm treaty back in the bush days, now we can start fresh with this new president who wants to work with us. i think there's a lot of posturing, message sending, and ultimately he wants to work with trump but i don't think he totally trusts that trump can deliver. so i'm reading this as very subtle messaging. >> it's interesting, the key
language from putin is restore the framework of bilateral cooperation. he's talking about collaboration on a qualitatively new level. barbara starr, that language from vladimir putin to me signals clearly he wants a very different relationship with the united states than currently has. >> well, maybe it would be useful for the entire world at this point to ask why putin wants that. this is not a guy who by any stretch is just into feel-good feelings with the united states and donald trump. that would be a fundamental misreading of vladimir putin by any stretch. putin wants sanctions lifted. he wants cash back in russian pockets. the oil prices have been down. he needs to get those sanctions lifted. even when he was talking about modernizing nuclear weapons, his military is under financial pressure. they may be huge but they are poorly paid. the russian economy has been suffering because of the sanctions imposed after russia's incursion into crimea and
eastern ukraine. vladimir putin has an agenda and nobody should misread that. it would be -- it would really be a mistake. does he want better relations with the u.s.? yeah, of course. but you know, he's not -- let me put it to you this way. i don't think i have spoken to a u.s. military commander or secretary of defense or chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in recent months who believes much of anything that vladimir putin has to say. >> jill, let me read you again just part of the line donald trump wrote because i think that, too, is very instructive here. talking about how nice the letter was from vladimir putin, he hopes the two countries can live up to it but adds at the end he hopes they can live up to it so we do not have to travel an alternate path. >> yes. >> that to me was a foreboding line or a warning from the president-elect at the very end of this gracious letter. >> yes. i think jill and barbara have this exactly right.
this is a very difficult and clever adversary in vladimir putin. you see that kind of i don't want to pull out the dagger kind of language that he uses there. and there's concerns about whether donald trump is up to the task. there's concerns about the conflict of interests that his secretary of state designate rex tillerson has. he just concluded a $500 billion oil deal with vladimir putin that's being held up by sanctions. there's all these issues swirling around. but let's stop an imbalance we do have a fork here, we do have a choice. donald trump can play this in a way that gets something from putin, that eliminates some of the nuclear weapons we worry most about, that contain his adventures in the middle east, and he could make a deal to give up some of the weapons that putin worries the most about. that could be an historic deal. or he could go down this path of rhetoric and arms race and
ill-considered language that may trigger a crisis that he himself doesn't really want. a lot is resting on what the president of the united states, the new president, does in the next six months or so. >> barbara, jill, joe, glad you guys were here to help me digest this breaking news. these letters just in to cnn. we will take a much greater look at them and come back to this in a little bit. also breaking today, the suspect in the german christmas market attack shot and killed by police in italy. now video of that man pledging allegiance to isis. the question investigators are asking this morning, did he have any help carrying out this attack? we are live on the scene after this. two hijackers took over a flight carrying more than 100 passengers. details on that story next. a lot going on today. see me. see me.
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we have breaking news in the berlin terror attack. a video just uploaded by isis affiliated media claims to show prime suspect anis amri pledging allegiance to abu bakr al baghdadi, this emerging hours after amri was killed during a shootout with police near milan in italy. that's more than 500 miles from where he carried out his attack. cnn's ben wedeman joins us now from rome. give us the details of this altercation. >> reporter: yeah, what happened was that about 3:00 in the morning in a milan suburb, a police patrol which was just checking people for
identification stopped a man they said was acting suspiciously. when they asked him for his i.d. instead of showing them an i.d. he pulled out a .22 caliber pistol, shouted "police bastards" and opened fire on the police patrol, wounding one of the police officers in the shoulder. another officer, however, was able to get behind this man anis amri who had hid behind a car and shoot him fat jally in the chest. they did find on his body not only the pistol but also a small knife and several hundred euro. police are obviously looking at why perhaps he was in that particular neighborhood of milan, very much a working class neighborhood. keeping in mind of course that amri had spent several years in italy after having come here from tunisia in the beginning of 2011. but much of his time in italy
was spent in a variety of prisons in the south. he was originally sentenced for setting alight a refugee center in an italian island between sicily and tunisia. this is a man who obviously had connections in italy and the thoughts are that perhaps there was a network that provided the support that allowed him to carry out those -- that attack in berlin. john? >> ben wedeman in rome. of course, the italian angle, back to berlin where we find erin mcloughlin, where this attack took place. what are german investigators saying? >> reporter: well, john, they are saying this investigation is far from over. today the federal prosecutor outlining remaining priorities. they are looking to see if 24-year-old tunisian national anis amri had any help. after all, we know that he was a member of a pro-isis recruitment network.
individuals from that network, leading figures having been arrested in november, according to investigation files he had expressed interest in the past in carrying out terror attacks. members from that network offering to hide him. so the question being, are the remaining members of the network out there who could potentially have helped him carry out this attack. >> all right. erin mcloughlin live in berlin. we hear the bells behind you. it is nice to hear people celebrating the christmas season in berlin after the week they have had there. german intelligence officials now say anis amri was on a list of the nation's most dangerous islamist threats and he was on that list for months before the attack. want to bring in cnn kourcounte terrorism analyst paul cruickshank. paul, what are you learning? >> he was put on that list in march so nine months before the attack, we understand. so for nine months they have
been aware that this individual was dangerous, was a risk and they knew that because they had a police informant inside the terrorism network he belonged to, the jihadi recruitment network he belonged to in germany, feeding them back all kinds of details. we have been reporting some of that detail, clearly the fact he wanted to launch an attack and other members of his circle wanted to launch truck attacks in germany. but i think this is quite stunning because it shows it was really very many months indeed that he was on the radar screen of german security services. >> a list of the most dangerous islamist threats. people asking this week how he slipped through the cracks. it sounds like more an issue of being dropped through the cracks in this case. >> that appears to be what happened here. bear in mind the germans did go
off to the key figures in this recruiting network, the teachers, proselytizers, including the leader of the organization, an iraqi with links back to isis. they were all arrested in november. but they didn't go after some of the foot soldiers in the movement, the youngsters who were being brainwashed by this network, and the worry is that there are other people connected to this attacker still at large who may have been inspired by what they saw him do and may want to do exactly that somewhere, sometime somewhere in europe. >> paul, the significance of the video we are seeing today of amri pledging allegiance to abu bakr al baghdadi? >> well, likely that it was recorded before the attack because he didn't know he was going to survive the attack. he could have been shot by a policeman. it likely would have been uploaded to isis before the attack. i think they probably held on to
it until they were sure he was dead or his operations were over. that suggests that he did have some contact either in isis or close to isis, because that's the only way you would be able to get a video to that terrorist organization. so that just underlines the fact he was part of a network with close ties to the isis terrorist organization. what remains to be seen is whether he was getting significant instructions from isis external operations operatives in raqqah. they may well have been aware he was about to do something before he did it. what he's given them here, unfortunately for everybody, is a big propaganda win. this is exactly what isis has instructed their recruits to do, to upload these videos claiming allegiance to abu bakr al baghdadi. we have seen that in a string of other attacks across the west including in germany back in the summer. >> paul cruickshank, a lot going on. thanks so much for being with
us. appreciate it. more breaking news. a dramatic incident in malta coming to a peaceful end. two hijackers diverted a libyan plane and threatened to blow it up with more than 100 people on board. malta's prime minister says the two male hijackers are probably of libyan nationality and wore in possession of a hand grenade. the men spoke to negotiators by phone for several hours on the tarmac before releasing the passengers and crew and finally surrendering to authorities. this video shows one of the hijackers was taken into custody. a motive behind all this not yet clear. at one point during the standoff, a man appeared at the top of the staircase of the plane with a solid green flag which in libya signifies allegiance to the late moammar gadhafi. coming up, donald trump sharing a very friendly letter he received this morning from russian president vladimir putin. and donald trump issued a very interesting and nuanced
issue in the security council. i want to bring in orin lieberman from jerusalem. what are you learning? >> reporter: a number of countries reintroduced this resolution after egypt pulled it, including new zealand, senegal, malaysia, who wanted to see this go forward yesterday. after egypt pulled it they put it back on the agenda this evening. the israeli government firing off a shot at president obama's administration the likes of which we have never seen before. let me read it. this coming from a senior israeli officials says president obama and secretary kerry are behind this shameful move against israel at the u.n. president obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it. this is an abandonment of israel which breaks decades of u.s. policy of protecting israel at the u.n. and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace. but the statement goes on to accuse president obama of cooking this up with the
palestinians and working behind the israelis' back. as for a palestinian response, this is nearly as interesting. first it says we have nothing to say about this. but it goes on to say no president has troubled palestinians and the u.n. more than president obama. it seemed it was expected this may go through with an abstention or a yes vote from the u.s. now we will find out what their expectation is today. they are working feverishly as we heard from a number of israeli officials to see what they can do to stop this from happening but as of right now it looks unlikely and this may be voted on just 24 hours after it was pulled. >> key developments now on this breaking news. joining me here in new york, israel's ambassador to the united nations. mr. ambassador, thank you for being with us. let's talk about the news. it is your understanding the security council will vote on this resolution condemning the settlements this afternoon? >> the council is scheduled to meet within a few hours this afternoon to vote on this shameful resolution, one-sided
resolution. the palestinian state that will use the transition period to put forward a resolution against israel. it will happen in a few hours. >> have you been told by the united states how it intends to vote, whether it intends to vote yes, no or abstain? >> as of now, we don't know what is the position of the u.s. we expect the u.s. to veto such a resolution. >> you hope the u.s. vetoes the resolution? >> we hope and we expect. because this is the policy of the u.s. administration for years. in 2011, ambassador vetoed a similar resolution. look at the language. it is exactly the same resolution denouncing israel. also in 2014, the u.s. voted against a similar resolution. that's why we expect for our friends, from our greatest ally, to stand against those who push the resolution forward. >> i wonder if you can help explain some language reported from oren lieberman, quoting a senior israeli official who accused president obama and
secretary kerry of being behind what he called this shameful move against israel at the united nations. you think president obama and secretary kerry are orchestrating this vote on settlements this afternoon? >> i don't know what you meant by orchestrating. >> he's saying they are behind this shameful move. >> i know in two or three hours my good friend ambassador samantha power will have to vote. she will get the order from the president, whether she will join countries like venezuela or angola or the palestinians bashing israel and the security council. this is the time we ask our friend to use veto power. when you have those power exactly for those moments when you need the stand by your ally and protect them at the security council. >> israel has been very consistent in calling on the united states to veto this, to exercise its veto power. you have been very consistent on that. that policy is clear. what is new is the statement from israeli official we just
got in saying that president obama and secretary kerry are orchestrating this vote, they are the ones pushing for this vote. >> the one who draft the resolution are the palestinians. they are trying to avoid direct negotiations with us. it's easier for them to come to the u.n., to come to new york, rather than to meet prime minister netanyahu and negotiate with israelis. they are the ones who drafted the resolution. the u.s. policy, we will know in few hours whether there's a change in the policy. it's important to say the change because for years, the u.s. stood by israel at the u.n. that will be a major change of u.s. policy if it will change in few hours. >> the u.s. has stood by israel at the u.n. but this administration and others, too, have questioned the expansion of settlements. >> that's legitimate. we have disputes. but that's what you have negotiations for, to argue about the disputes. we had negotiation with the egyptians. we signed peace treaty with egypt. same with jordan. to come to the u.n. and decide
about the disputed issues like the settlement, like jerusalem, the resolution saying we cannot build homes in our capital in jerusalem? do the american people really think the jewish people cannot build homes in jerusalem? this is the language of the resolution. >> this is also -- >> read the resolution. >> it also includes the west bank as well. >> the jewish community in jerusalem. if the u.s. will vote about it, it's actually telling the people, the jewish people in israel, you shouldn't build jewish homes in jerusalem. >> this is an area we have been consistent. i want to ask one last time on the issue of whether you blame the president and secretary kerry for bringing this to a vote. whether you think they are behind bringing this to a vote. >> i have hope, no blame. i hope the u.s. will stand by israel and will support us at security council. >> let me ask about the next president, president-elect donald trump. how much was he responsible for the delay of this vote? how did he help israel yesterday? >> we appreciate the statement
president-elect trump issued yesterday where he said the policy of the u.s. should be to stand by israel and to allow us to negotiate with the palestinians, but you see, the u.n., we have the vote today. it didn't happen yesterday. it will take place today. that's why you have the veto power and that's why we expect from the u.s. to use the veto power. >> do you think he was decisive in getting the egyptians at least temporarily to withdraw the resolution? >> i don't know. i think people in the world listen to the president-elect about his future policy and care about what he's saying. by the way, we have seen that across the board. major democrats went publicly against these resolutions. 88 senators say they called the president to veto such a resolution. so it is not a partisan issue. >> do you think that the construction of settlements in the west bank is helpful to the peace process? >> i think the construction of the jewish communities is not the obstacle to peace.
we evacuated jews from gaza more than ten years ago. we took out all the settlements out of gaza. look what's happening today in gaza. if we can actually negotiate with the palestinians, we will talk about everything. prime minister netanyahu said i am willing to negotiate about everything. but not with the security council. not through one-sided resolution where we see the rest of the world getting against israel. >> if the united states does in fact vote yes on this resolution or abstain, what will the relationship between israel and the united states be after that vote? >> the relationship are very strong. we share the same values. we are the strongest democracy in the area. we look forward to continuing to work with the american people. >> ambassador, happy hanukkah. thank you for being here. appreciate it. coming up, breaking news this hour. we have a lot of breaking news this hour. as we just learned russian president vladimir putin sent president-elect donald trump a letter, a very friendly letter, and the president-elect today has a very very friendly response. that's next. insurance company
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all right. we have more breaking news. this hour we learned russian president vladimir putin sent the nebs president of the united states, donald trump, a letter. in it the russian leader called for a stronger relationship between the two countries, and this is happening even as both sides are weighing in on expanding their nuclear weapons capability, and as the president-elect said, let there be an arms race. he said that just this morning. now, sean spicer, who will be the white house press secretary, he came here on cnn trying to clarify that. listen -- >> he is going to do what it takes to protect this country and if another country or countries want to threaten our safety or sovereignty he's going to do what it takes.
>> sure. but he's not waiting until another country threatens us. he's making proclamations before. >> he's making it very clear, other countries and companies, carrier and other, going to make it clear he will be an active president that will get things done. >> meaning use nuclear weapons if need be? >> not take anything off the table. he's not sitting back and letting another country act. >> talk about this now. matt bennett, and steve cortez, adviser to donald trump, was during the campaign. close to the trump transition and senior white house reporter, with politico. guys, let's talk russia first. i guess we'll talk nuclear weapons quickly then we'll talk, you know, my friend, the russian leader, wrote me a letter. on nuclear weapons first. let it be an arms race.
matt bennett, that is the extension of an exchange yesterday between donald trump and russia over expanding nuclear capabilities. your reaction? >> well, this is exactly what people like me, who opposed donald trump in this race, feared. which was, he was going to shoot from the hip without having any idea what he's doing or talking about, in fact, doing it before becoming president and we have a tradition in this country president-elects don't try to make foreign policy as this one apparently is, and he is saying things that are incoherent to the world and to the russians and that is very, very dangerous. >> i'm not sure if it's incoherent and open to interpretation? right? talking about strengthening nuclear capability. expanding nuclear capability, steve cortez. some look at that and say, oh, he just means modernize. is that how you read it? >> right. it certainly is how i read it. by the way, really not even new policy. the current president obama
talked about this. commit more resources. >> lem cut you off right here. yes, it is the obama policy. not part of the obama policy is let it be an arms race which is how donald trump expanded on it this morning. >> you're right. that part is new. i think what he means by that, sean spicer alluded to this, we will not be outmatched, outgunned literally by anyone in the world. i think in recent years unfortunately america has not been feared by our enemies and haven't really been trusted by our friends. israel in particular, talking about a lot today. that's going to change. it's already starting to change with president-elect trump -- >> who is outgunning us on nuclear weapons? mpl >> nobody is. the point is nobody will. that won't happen whether russia, states aren't necessarily nuclear but ill-will towards us, like iran. we're not giving $1.5 billion in cash that mean us harm and
israel harm. not out-gunned by russia, china, by anyone. making a statement america's security is one of the key reasons he won this race. i think it's prosperity and security. those dual goals are incredibly important to him. >> edward, ask you about the next step going on here. the russian leader, the trump transition released it, vladimir putin wrote donald trump a letter last week, gracongratulag him. and a response from president-elect today. sent a nice letter from president vladimir putin. thoughts are so correct. i hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts and we do not have to travel an alter knit path. i have to be honest. when i read that language from donald trump i was surprised, because that language from a man, a candidate, who was very, very kind about russia, and about vladimir putin, that seems to be drawing a little bit of a line. that's an implicit threat that i
hope things are good, or else? >> and in the context of talking about increasing our nuclear arsenal, i think people could say what does an alternate path really mean? it seems overallpresident-elect trump is looking for a very different relationship with russia and certainly we know vladimir putin is looking for a very different relationship with the united states. what the obama administration has done in its relationship with russia has been very rough on the russian economy, through the sanctions, on many people who are close to putin, through tho direct individual sanctions and ov overja overall limiting the russians influence, moving in geopolitical affairs not just about the united states but all over europe a rise of leaders who are more amenable to working with putin. people who do not seem like they would be as quick to rush to condemning him on something like the invasion of crimea, or any of the other things he's done
that has troubled barack obama and troubled angela merkel and other european leaders. >> i was surprised, though, to see donald trump's language. first time i'd seen him draw a line when it comes to russia. moving on to israel. fascinating what's going on at the united nations. we believe, in just three hours, there will be, we think a vote condemning israeli settlements in the west bank. you know, matt bennett, israel, we have a statement from israeli officials saying that president obama and john kerry accuses the president and secretary of state of being behind this vote. orchestrating this vote. now, w we don't have reason to w whether or not that is in fact true, but it does raise questions. at a minimum it's been said they may vote yes on this resolution or abstain, showing this white house is willing to make a policy statement, a significant policy statement, that changes u.s. policy just a matter of a couple dozen days before the next president is sworn in?
>> well, it changes it some, and the ambassador was right in the previous segment that, that u.s. had voted against this kind of resolution before. don't forget that the obama administration has been putting intense pressure on the netanyahu administration for years to stop the settlements. in fact, early in the administration, joe biden got on his plane and went home when some settlements that had been stalled were announced they would go forward while he was in the country. and he was furious about that. this has been a real sore point between the united states and israel for a long time. >> right. >> the other thing is, here again, you have the president-elect still weeks away from being sworn in as president acting as president, trying to make foreign policy. again that is just completely -- not only unprecedented, it is outrageous and not how we do things as americans. >> a minute left, guys. i want to get edward and steve in. edward, first you, you cover the white house and know about this. this would be a heck of a
parting statement from the obama white house. yes? >> certainly ux and of cour, an the end of 7.5 years of overlapping leadership between netanyahu and obama very troubled and rough. of course, you know, it was not that long ago we were spending months talking about the speech that netanyahu gave -- >> right. >> -- to the joint congress and went behind the white house and scheduling that with republican leadership in the house then that infuriated the white house and felt to them like the worst possible thing that could happen, other than netanyahu winning re-election which they were very much against. so it's not surprising we get to this point as obama's leaving and netanyahu looking for an advantage. >> steve, ten seconds, quick response from you. >> sure. we're going to become an ally to israel again. stop coddling around, support them in the united nations. we're going to move our embassy to jerusalem. the united states will once again be a real friend and ally
to israel under president trump. >> a lot of change. a lot of developments. gentlemen, thanks for being with us. >> thank you. up next, the suspect in the berlin christmas market attack is dead. this after a shoot-out with italian police. still, there are a lot of questions that remain. stay with us. jack be nimble, jack be quick, jack knocked over a candlestick onto the shag carpeting... ...and his pants ignited into flames, causing him to stop, drop and roll. luckily jack recently had geico help him with renters insurance. because all his belongings went up in flames. jack got full replacement and now has new pants he ordered from banana republic. visit geico.com and see how affordable renters insurance can be.
all right. top of the hour now. john berman here. kate bolduan off today. breaking news. president-elect donald trump release add personal letter received from the russian president vladimir putin offering his warmest christmas and new year's greetings, also talking about a much-improved relationship he hoped takes place. this comes just hours after the president-elect said, let there be an arms race. both president-elect trump and president putin have vowed to strengthen and expand their countrie